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This Designer’s Maisonette Has Enough Privacy for 3 Couples

March 4, 2020
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It's all thanks to a brand-new layout with personal, soundproof spaces.

Much like a mentally-blocked artist facing a blank canvas, the idea of having to start all over again can be a daunting affair for anyone who’s planning a complete renovation.

However, for Royston Ho, who’s a seasoned interior designer at Fifth Avenue Interior, re-building his childhood home – an HDB maisonette in Serangoon – from scratch has been a dream that he has had since entering the industry three years ago.

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North
Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

The kitchen, part of which was previously a study, in mid-renovation (top) and with its brand-new look (below).

“I have been staying here for the past 16 years, and it was really time for a renovation because everything was getting old, so we just tore down everything and started afresh,” says Royston. “The main idea was to improve the look and overall layout, and to create rooms where it’s possible for everyone to enjoy their own privacy.”

With this plan firmly in mind, Royston wasted no time in getting to work with his partner Cher, who’s a professional interior designer herself. To find out more about the ideas that they came up with, we visited the creative couple for a chat!


About the concept behind the home’s new look and layout

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

The living room, pre-renovation.

Royston (R): If you were to count myself, Cher, who lives here on weekends, my parents and my brother and his girlfriend, there are a total of 6 people in this house. So even though it’s a maisonette, it can feel cramped sometimes and we were always bumping into each other – this was the main problem we had.

Cher (C): That’s also why we conceptualised this project as ‘Segments’. Our goal was to figure out ways on how to divide the house, but still make it feel comfortable enough for a family that’s living together.

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North
Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

The layout plan for the first (top) and second (bottom) floors of the maisonette.

R: Yup, so that’s why when you look at the floor plan, you can see that each room or area can be closed off for privacy. For example, I can be in the kitchen having meetings with my clients without disturbing my parents who are watching TV in the living room.

About the living room’s new look

R: The living room is where my parents spend most of their time in the day. I wanted it to be this space that’s comfortable enough for them to relax, but also conducive like an office because both of them work from home at times.

Cher and I chose this black-and-white design theme, which is stylish and cosy. The main motifs that we used here and also for the rest of the house are clean lines and a monochrome colour scheme paired with warm wood flooring.

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

Interior Firm: Fifth Avenue Interior

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

C: Royston’s dad used to have his office at the front of the house where the kitchen is now, but we moved it. Here, it’s closer to the balcony and it’s more convenient for him to take his breaks. And although there’s a door outside that segregates the living room from the kitchen, we designed the study to be its own space so it’s really quiet and useful for home conferences.

About the kitchen’s new look

R: The kitchen used to be a lot smaller and it shared the same space as the first-floor toilet, but again, we turned it into its own private space for meetings. The open-concept design was intentional because that allowed us to install an island counter – the sides are covered in EDL Fenix laminates and the top is Vulcan, which is a sort of porcelain surface that’s quite new in Singapore.

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior
Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

The kitchen before and after the renovation.

We also used Vulcan for the backsplash because the look is completely seamless; there are zero grout or joint lines between the backsplash and the counter as compared to tiles. The rest of the kitchen’s design is pretty regular, just your usual one-wall layout for light cooking and Blum storage solutions.

About the stairway’s new look

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

The stairway prior to the renovation.

C: Personally, we like to play with lights because they help to bring out different vibes at different times of the day, so there are cove lights and a chandelier here. We also replaced the wooden banisters with these wire-mesh ones to create a nice industrial vibe with the cement-look performance coating on the walls.

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior
Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

The stairway before and after its makeover.

Also, although you can’t see them, the aircon trunkings for the upper floor are concealed in the walls along the staircase landing, and we had to be careful about the depth of the walls so that they would be flushed with any adjacent doorways.

About the common bathroom’s new look

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

Philips Hue lights were installed in the bathroom and in other areas around the house to provide a flexible, colour-smart lighting scheme.

R: If you’ve ever been to a maisonette or lived in one, you’ll know that the toilet entrance is located way inside, but here, we brought out the exterior walls to create a passageway. We really needed it as a changing area because concealing the pipes in the walls took up about an additional 15cm of space, which shrunk the stretch where the sink, shower, and WC are.

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

The common bathroom before and after it was renovated

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

The sink is made from an entire slab of Vulcan, which we also used in the kitchen. I believe we’re the first ones to experiment creating an integrated sink using this porcelain material. In fact, what you see here is actually the second attempt and it has a new sealant because there were water staining issues with the first version.

About the master bedroom and en suite’s new look

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

How the master bedroom and its en suite looked like before the renovation

R: So then this is the only part of the house that’s mostly white. The bookmatched feature wall was something we created using Lamitak laminates, it’s the same one in their showroom but to let it fit on the wall, we had to shave a bit of the centre and the sides off.

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior
Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

Then there’s this magical bit about the master bedroom, if you close the door of the walk-in wardrobe on the side, you can’t hear anything outside the sleeping zone. My brother and I can be making a ruckus outside and my parents won’t be affected at all!

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

C: The master bathroom has a full-height shower screen, usually most screens end off at 2 metres. Personally, we prefer building it all the way to the top because it looks better.

Some homeowners say this prevents the steam from escaping the shower area, but to ventilate it all you have to do is to leave a slight gap at the top, or you could just open the doors – his (Royston’s) parents aren’t complaining, so we aren’t either [chuckles].

About the junior bedroom’s new look

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

The junior bedroom prior to the home makeover.

R: My brother’s a gamer, so his bedroom was designed with a cool vibe in mind. There are Philips Hue lights installed in the ceiling cove that he can adjust to suit his mood; they aren’t pricey either, about $85 to $100 a strip, so you can consider them if you like having different lighting colours.

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior
Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

Again, because soundproofing was an issue that we wanted to solve, one solution that we came up with was to build a walk-in wardrobe behind the platform bed; it kills two birds with one stone both because it’s a good replacement for the shelving system that my brother used to have and it's an additional buffer that prevents noise from filtering into my room next door.

About the new look of Royston’s bedroom

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North

How Royston’s bedroom looked like previously.

R: So, this is my room! I really like it and it’s a space that I look forward to coming home to. The details, like the dark colours and material palette, are mostly the same as the rest of the house so that I can feel the same relaxing vibe whether I am here or hanging out elsewhere in the house. Of course, I like the projector set-up too – with the surround sound and aircon on, it feels like I have my own cinema [laughs]!

Fifth Avenue Interior Renovation Journey Serangoon North
Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

I’d say the most useful addition to the space is the wardrobe at the front. Other than using it for storing clothes, it lets me set up wires and other electronics without cable clutter. The back of the wardrobe is also stuffed with rock wool, which again, helps with the noise problem because it’s a good sound insulator.

To sum up

Serangoon North Avenue 4 by Fifth Avenue Interior

R: I think I speak for Cher and myself when I say that you’ll be more in tune with the details when you’re designing your own home. This is the place I grew up in and knowing it in-and-out really helps because you know what you can do with the space, and also what its problems are. If you were to ask me, I definitely like it better the way it is now!


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